Kitchen Essentials: Cutting Board

So where do you start when you’re picking out a cutting board for your kitchen? This is a great question because a cutting board is really an essential piece of equipment for making delicious food. There are a few things to think about when making this decision.

The one style of cutting board that always makes me cringe when I see it being used is a glass one. These are for decorative purposes only!!!! There is nothing worse for your knife then cutting on a hard surface such as glass or metal. Please if you are using a glass board put it away and go buy a real board.

Now that I have that off of my chest lets talk about what you should be looking at. As you probably know there are so many options out there. But lets start narrowing down your choices and answering some questions.

Plastic Cutting Boards

Plastic Cutting Boards

Plastic: This is a decent option because of the ease of cleaning. Most of these say that they are dishwasher safe so that is one bonus of them. However they do have some downsides. One of those is they are usually really ugly. I don’t know if I have ever seen a plastic cutting board that I though “oh wow, that would look great in my kitchen”. This just doesn’t happen. I am surprised that we don’t see more decorative plastic cutting boards but most of them are just plain colors and the majority of them are just plain white. The other thing about them is the fact that the more you use them the more knife grooves and cuts you get in them. This is only a big deal because of the fact that this is when they start growing the nasty stuff. The last thing you want to do is contaminate the food you are cooking for your loved ones.

Worn Out Nasty Plastic Cutting Board

Worn Out Nasty Plastic Cutting Board

So what are the alternatives to a plastic cutting board? Well how about a beautiful wood board! They are so much nicer looking then a plastic cutting board. They come in all different sizes, shapes and made from different kinds of wood. Now I know that your probably thinking that wood is porous so doesn’t bacteria have a better chance of sticking to a wood board over a plastic cutting board? The answer to that is no! There was a study conducted by UC Davis that proves that and you can read all about it here! The other really cool thing about wood cutting boards is that unless you are using a huge cleaver and hacking at bones you will not notice knife marks on your cutting boards. The other really nice thing is that most of the wood cutting boards or chopping blocks are beautiful enough that you will want to keep them out on your counter! The once downside for most people is that the wood cutting boards usually run a little more on the expensive side. However they are a item that if treated right you will not have to replace them like you do with plastic boards. The only downside to them is the fact that they cannot be run through the dishwasher. However they are super easy to keep clean. Don’t let this keep you from looking at them as the better option.

Another question I get asked quite often is “Is a wood cutting board worse for my knives than a plastic one?” While this is a good question it has a very simple answer. Using your knives is going to dull them no matter if you using a plastic or a wood cutting board. So there is really no difference between the two. The main factor for that is the hardness of the steel of your blade but that is a article for a different time.

Cotton and Dust- The Hannah Grace

Cotton and Dust- The Hannah Grace

So when when you weigh out your options in my opinion it always goes to the wood cutting boards. Make sure you do your research and get a good one. If you are going to be spending the money make sure you’re getting a good one. There are some big name companies out there but they are not always the best option. One of the really popular ones is John Boos. I have had the opportunity to use them in the past and the only problem I have ever had is sometimes they tend to swell and split. There is nothing more disappointing then spending the money on a nice chopping block and having that happen.  I have recently had the pleasure of talking to the owner of Cotton and Dust, and I am thoroughly impressed with him. He has a great outlook on what he is making and wanting to keep the quality at the forefront. One of the really special things they offer is “Lifetime Reconditioning”. And upon talking to him he told me that this is the lifetime of the cutting board. He is making a cutting board that can be purchased and handed down to your family and still get it reconditioned. Not only does he have this great guarantee but he also makes some of the most beautiful cutting boards I have seen. I really encourage everyone to check his cutting boards out! Let’s make this the new standard of what every home kitchen should have. No more plastic cutting boards. Invest in a product that is made here in the US and a better quality then the mass produced counterparts.

Cotton and Dust - The Ella

Cotton and Dust – The Ella

Vitello Tonnato

A couple of weeks ago at work I was lucky enough to be able to show off some cooking with an immersion circulator. The dish I was able to show off with was vitello Tonnato. This is a traditional veal dish with a tuna and caper sauce. Yes, I am aware that this sounds like a bit of a weird combination but trust me it is such a delicious pairing.

Veal Tenderloins

Veal Tenderloins

So to do this dish we were using a veal tenderloin that was cleaned of the silver skin and excess fat. Continue reading

Sous Vide Creme Brulee

This has been a question that I have been asked several times now. How in the world do you make a creme brulee in an immersion circulator. Well let me share the secrets to this delicious dessert and change the way you look at it forever.

So this is a super easy to do. You start with your favorite creme brulee recipe or you can use the one I am posting at the bottom of this post. Continue reading

Rotary Vacuum Evaporator.

My Cooking Wishlist

Today I have decided to write up a quick list of things I would like to add to my kitchen collection. My “cooking wishlist” so to speak. Most of these things are fairly straight forward but some are used for some more advanced techniques.

Now the real question is what to start with. Recently I started following a company on twitter that makes Pizza Steels. Well they now have a new really cool product that is a stove top griddle. So it is a steel plate that that sits on top of your burner basically giving you a flat top griddle like the ones used in a lot of restaurants. The reason I want one of these is because there are so many uses, especially when cooking meat sous vide.  Not only that but you can do bacon, eggs, hash browns and all kinds of other stuff.

Next on my list is the iSi Thermo Whipping Siphon. These are the canisters that you put some kind of a liquid or batter in and charge it with a little co2 tank. These are really great for things like making foams or microwave cakes. The downside to them is that because they are kind of a specialized product they happen to be really expensive.

iSi Whipping Siphon

iSi Whipping Siphon

One of the other things that I have found myself without that would really nice to have is a good Vita-Mix. Most of you know the reasons that this would be a really thing to have around the kitchen, anything from a nice sauce to a perfectly blended soup.

Vita-Mix 750

Vita-Mix

I never run out of my list of cookbooks that I would love to add. I always keep a running list of books going on my amazon account. One of the ones at the top of my list is the big brother to one I already have. It is the Modernist Cuisine. I have the “At Home” version but I really would like to get the more advance and complete set. This set of books is super intense and for the home cook the “At Home” version would probably be the better choice.

Modernist Cuisine Set

Modernist Cuisine Set

Now for the super fun toys that have a higher price tag but would be a blast to have. There are several of these on my list made by one of my favorite companies. That’s right you guessed it, Polyscience. They make a couple of different things that I would love to get my hands on and play around with. One is the Anti-Griddle. It is a cooking tool that has a plate similar to a griddle but instead of getting hot to cook things it does the opposite, it gets super cold. And by super cold I am talking -30 F. This allows you to do some cool stuff such as frozen vinaigrette’s that melt on your plate or desserts with a cold center. All kinds of crazy cool stuff.

Anti Griddle

Anti Griddle

The other tool that I would love to get from is a Rotary Evaporator. This is a tool that can evaporate, distill, separate and purify liquids which will allow you to easily concentrate, capture and infuse flavors. Lots of different things you can do with this such as flavors for foods and drinks.

Rotary Vacuum Evaporator.

Rotary Vacuum Evaporator.

Well these are just a few of the many things I would like to add to my collection but there are always new things I am adding to it and can always use like spoons and spatulas and other random things

I would love to know what things are on your wish list. Leave a quick list in the comment section!

The dishes that Wai-Man and I cooked up

Our Version of “Chopped”

Our own version of “Chopped”

For the last few weeks instead of having a class on Tuesday’s we have been doing a cooking demo. It has been a lot of fun. Not only does it allow us to use up extra product and keep it from going bad but it has also allowed me to do some cooking. So the premise behind these demos is to take things out of the fridge and trying to make dishes out of them. I have really enjoyed this process because it has made me really do some creative cooking!

So this last demo we did had a little twist to it. Myself and my assistant, Wai-Man, had a cook off with a tray of ingredients that was wrapped in foil, so we had no idea what was on it. It was in essence our own version of “Chopped” without the prize money!

Now to what was on the tray, because i’m sure your wanting to know what we had to work with. When we unwrapped the tray there was a chicken breast, a shot of bourbon, a Fresno chilli, a 1/4 head of red cabbage, a couple of slice of bacon, 2 red potatoes, and a granny smith apple, and the real brain teaser was 2 amareti cookies. So many good ingredients, and so many possibilities. The only thing that threw a wrench into all plans was the cookies. They are delicious on their own, sweet and crispy, but a tough thing to work into a savory dish.

Now we were just planning on having a nice friendly cook off, however the people that were there watching us cook decided that it was necessary for us to have a time limit. So we set the time limit at 25 mins, enough time to get everything cooked but also keep a little pressure on us. Continue reading

Finished Corned Beef cut in half

Tough Cuts of Meat

Amazing Transformation of Meat

So over this last week I have tried cooking a couple of tough cuts of meet for longer periods of time. The first thing I did was a corned beef. This was a crazy eye opening experience. I was not expecting such a huge change in texture from cooking this. Now I won’t take credit for the flavor or anything because I did take the short cut of buying one pre-brined from my local Costco.

So I set my circulator to 140 F and started it warming up. While it was warming up I took the corned beef and opened it up and resealed it using my Polyscience Chamber Sealer. I did not add any other seasonings or flavors. I wanted to just compare this to one that had been cooked a couple of weeks earlier that had been done in the crock-pot.

Sealed up Corned Beef in Water Bath

Corned Beef in Water

Continue reading

Talk to Chef

As many of you know I am always looking for cool new things. And I was lucky enough to have been contacted by a really cool new site. It is called Talk to Chef. It is the perfect solution for those moments where you suddenly realize that you have a committed to a dinner or a meal and your completely over your head.  There is nothing worse than that feeling of “oh crap why did I say I would make that!” We have all been there before. Now there is a great solution to get help for those moments in life.

Talk to Chef Continue reading

Pork Belly

This week I was fortunate to get my hands on a healthy supply of pork belly. Now the question is what to do with all of it. Now this might be kind of a daunting task for a lot of people, but as for me, I just get excited about the endless possibilities of what I can make from it.

Pork Belly

Pork Belly

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Mojo Marinated Pork

So I have been really excited about Cuban flavors recently. Partly due to the fact that I love the movie Chef, but mainly because they are just great flavors. I have decided to mix this with my love of sous vide cooking. I have decided to do a mojo marinaded pork shoulder and cook it with my immersion circulator, instead of the traditional oven roasting and then shred it and make some Cuban inspired street tacos!

My plan is to take the shoulder and mix up a mojo marinade.

 

Pork in Mojo Marinade

Pork in Mojo Marinade

Continue reading

Great Thanksgiving Side Dish

If you are looking for a dish to take with you, or make for your family this Thanksgiving, then I have a great solution for you. I made this tasty dish last year and it ended up being a huge hit. I found this on the Thug Kitchen blog. If you go to the site I will warn you there is some language that might offend some.

Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Here is what you will need.

1 ½ pounds of brussels sprouts

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup quinoa

1 ¾ cup water

pinch of salt

1/3 cup toasted almonds

1/3 cup dried cranberries (if you can’t find any, don’t fucking sweat it)

¼ cup chopped parsley

1/8 teaspoon of salt

pepper to taste

DRESSING:

2-3 cloves of garlic

2 ½ tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons lemon juice (about 1 lemon)

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon olive oil

To start with you will want to pre heat your oven to 400 F. While your oven is coming up to temp you want to clean and prepare your sprouts. Pull off any of the nasty looking leaves on the outside, and if they are big cut them into quarters or if they are smaller ones you can just half them. When done with that put them into a bowl and drizzle them with a little oil and put them onto a sheet pan. We want to roast these in the oven for about 20 mins or so. You should see them start to turn a little golden and there may even be a few spots that look a little burnt, but don’t worry that is all flavor we want. You will want to pull the sheet out and give them a little stir about 10 minutes in just to make sure they are all getting evenly cooked.

While the roasting is happening, you will want to get the quinoa working. To start with you will want to rinse it, so that it is not bitter. Run cold water over it until it runs clear, Put it in a pot of water with a healthy pinch of salt and bring that up to a boil. Then turn it down to a simmer and let that cook for 15-20 minutes or until the water is all absorbed.

Once you have that on and going we are going to want to make the dressing. Super simple but I promise it is delicious with everything else. Easiest way to do this it to cut up the garlic and put it all in a mason jar, close the lid, and shake it all up to get it all combined.

When the sprouts and quinoa are done, toss them in a bowl together and add the dressing and give it a nice stir. Add in your almonds, cranberries, parsley, salt and pepper. Make sure you taste it and adjust the seasoning to your liking.

This should serve about 4 people but is easy to adjust for more people. I think that you will seriously impress your friends or family if you show up to Thanksgiving dinner with a big bowl of this. The best part is it can be served warm or at room temperature and it is just as tasty either way. Hope you enjoy and have a great Thanksgiving.